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Road Safety: 20 mph zones

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Many families are concerned about their childrenís safety, and we have tried for years to get housing estates throughout Kirkstall designated as 20mph zones like many other estates in Leeds. Not only does the total number of accidents fall dramatically when average speeds are reduced, but the injuries sustained in the remaining accidents are much less severe. This is illustrated in the diagram below. The case for lower speed limits in residential areas is overwhelming.

After years of argument we finally succeeded with the Hawksworth Wood estate and what a mess it turned out to be! The humps were not constructed to the correct specification. After numerous complaints and an irate Public Meeting with Rachel Reeves MP on 11 March 2012 we finally got the contractor back on site. The worst humps were changed to make it possible to drive round the estate without breaking a car spring or injuring your back. The scheme was reviewed after 6 months to see what further modifications were required.

We have subsequently introduced further 20mph zones near schools, such as St Stephen's C of E Primary, and Abbey Grange C of E Academy. Some have been more successful than others: it is generally agreed that the St Stephen's zone is too small and inconspicuous, so that many motorists drive stright through it without realising it is there. We are, unfortunately, constrained by the government guidelines. There is a national campaign running called "20's plenty" and many local councils across the UK are moving in the direction of lower speeds where children live.

Road safety is an important issue, and the Kirkstall Labour Councillors support the programmed introduction of 20mph zones in residential areas, after full consultation with the local residents. Research by the Department for Transport has shown that 20mph zones reduced average traffic speeds by 9 mph, annual accident frequency fell by 60%, the overall reduction in child accidents was 67%, and there was an overall reduction in accidents to cyclists of 29%.

A 20mph speed limit on its own is relatively ineffective, unless traffic speeds are already low, in which case it may be sufficient. 20mph zones have additional "traffic calming" measures (speed humps, chicanes and so forth) which reinforce the message and make it very difficult to drive at higher speeds.

Our first 20mph zone was in Burley, in area to the east of Kirkstall Road, to combat long-standing problems with rat-running during the morning and evening traffic peaks. It would be wrong to claim that the 20mph zone has completely solved this problem, but it has certainly reduced it. We continue to monitor the situation, and we are pressing for better enforcement and improvements to the layout where these can be achieved.

Abbeydales, Vesper Gates, Spens and Hawksworth Wood

Public consultation started in 2008 on major new proposals for a full 20mph zone on the Hawksworth Wood estate, with a 20mph speed limit for the Abbeydales, Spens and Vesper Gates. Click here to download a detailed map of the draft scheme (1.6MB) in PDF format, or refer to the low resolution plans below:

Please note: this is the original map, not the scheme eventually constructed

The Kirkstall councillors received many favourable comments on these proposals, particularly from parents living along the major rat runs such as Lea Farm Road. There was also strong support from school governing bodies and local schools. The proposals were approved by the Council and were all set to proceed during late 2009. Kirkstall councillors contacted Leeds City Council Highways Department when the scheme failed to start on time.

After several written reminders, Council officers finally admitted in late February 2010 that the scheme was "on hold at the present time". A Council spokesperson wrote: "I appreciate that this news is disappointing, however the Council were not in a position to deliver the 20mph schemes in their original format in what Iím sure you will appreciate are financially stringent times."

Cllr Lucinda Yeadon said: "Child safety is a top priority for Labour. When we are back in control of Leeds City Council we will make sure that this scheme is funded."

The Labour councillors have been good to their word, and when Labour regainded a tenuous control of the Council in May 2010 the Hawksworth Wood traffic calming scheme was among the first to be re-instated. It had in the meantime been heavily cut to save money, so we faced a choice between half a loaf and no bread. The scheme "as built" bore only a superficial resemblance to the scheme we had campaigned for.

Last updated 3 April 2015 at 22:40. Back to the top

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Promoted by John Illingworth, 37 Kirkwood Way, Leeds LS16 7EU